Blending Engineering Content with Design Thinking and UX to Maximize Student Engagement in a Technical Communication Class

Author(s): Nadya Shalamova
Venue: 2016 IEEE International Professional Communication Conference (IPCC)
Date: 2016

Type of Experiement: Case Study
Class/Experience Level: Undergraduate Student
Participant Selection: Classwork
Data Collection Method: Observation


This paper discusses the importance and difficulty in creating a technical communication course that will engage engineering students and provide meaningful experiences during the class. The difficulty arises from teachers having a lack of technical expertise and engineering students seeing technical communication as irrelevant to their field. The paper proposes teaching UX and design thinking in order to create a richer educational experience for the students.

The author started off the course by explaining core technical communication concepts and showing how companies use them for engineering. She then borrowed YouTube videos from IDEO and design thinking methods published by the at Stanford. The author found that overall students responded well to the class. She found that the engineering students especially appreciated the hands on activities that design thinking generally lends itself to.